Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Tuesday said the Centre had started the process of stopping water from flowing to Pakistan without flouting the rules of the long-standing Indus Water Treaty, The Indian Express reported.

“If you are talking about our top priorities, then work has begun on how to stop water that flows into Pakistan,” said Shekhawat. “I am talking about the water which is going to Pakistan, I am not talking about breaking the Indus Treaty.”

His comments came a day after India rejected Pakistan’s claims that it had not been informed about the release of water from a dam that could cause flooding in its territory. Islamabad accused New Delhi of waging “fifth-generation warfare” and alleged that the unexpected release of water into the Sutlej was an attempt to break the treaty.

The minister said all reservoirs were full but the excess water going to Pakistan could be used during dry spells by diverting it to the Ravi. Shekhawat claimed dams were built “not only to generate hydroelectricity” but for use in the “lean season”.

“They [India] try to isolate diplomatically, they try to strangulate economically, they’re trying to strangulate our water resources – and water automatically will have an impact on your economy, your agriculture and your irrigation,” Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority Chairperson Muzammil Hussain had told Reuters on Monday. “India was using its position upstream to wage fifth-generation warfare on the country”.

Hussain had also claimed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had “threatened very clearly that he could stop water to Pakistan. He couldn’t care less [for] the treaties”.

The Indus Waters Treaty, drawn up in September 1960 and brokered by the World Bank, lays down rules for how the water of the Indus and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be used. According to the pact, India controls Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, while Pakistan controls Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

Relations between the two countries have worsened in recent weeks after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two Union Territories. New Delhi’s actions on August 5 were swiftly condemned by Islamabad, which downgraded diplomatic ties and ended bilateral trade. Since then, Pakistan has attempted to raise the Kashmir matter at the United Nations Security Council, saying India’s decisions were a threat to regional and global peace. On Tuesday, the Imran Khan government said it would approach the International Court of Justice.

Earlier in February, India had decided to stop its share of excess water that used to flow to Pakistan after the Pulwama terror attack. In 2016, Modi had said “blood and water cannot flow together” after suspending a meeting on the Indus Water Treaty.

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